Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Canning and Planning

That's the theme of my days lately.  I canned pinto beans today.  7 quarts.  I have learned that I prefer to can in pint jars instead of quarts, because my pressure canner will hold 19 pints, but only 7 quarts.  However, I bought a case of quart jars, and I want to use them.  I think I have 5 or 6 quart jars left.

Kelly asked me last night (while Jimmy and I were eating supper with Kelly and Lynn) why was I canning all this food.  "Are you preparing for some world-wide disaster?"  I told him that I didn't know why I was doing all this canning.  Well, the tomatoes are coming in like crazy, and it's either can them or let them ruin….but for the beans…..I can't remember why I thought that buying 75 pounds of dried beans and canning them was such good idea.

Except that they taste so much better than the cans you buy in the grocery store.  And I hope that I am buying myself some time when school starts---it's a lot faster to open up a home-canned jar of beans and reheat them than to remember to soak dried beans overnight, and then either cook them all day in the crock pot of watch them simmer on the stove top for 2 hours.  I think I will be glad come fall.

I just made a Final School Planning To-Do List.  It is as long as the piece of paper in my notebook!  And I did not even itemize the things to get Leah's and Sam's school ready.  Once I get all subjects planned, organized, and ready for each child, I will tackle the huge project of creating a daily schedule for us to follow.  Going with the flow does not work for me!  I am not a slave to my schedule, but putting in all on paper and seeing how it could possibly work in a perfect world gives me a goal to aim for.

I'm going to work on my school list now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Canning and Complaining

I drove to Nashville and back yesterday to pick up Olivia and Julie.  Since I was in the car for over 8 hours, and half of that I was alone, I did not have that much opportunity to complain!  It's easy to not complain when you don't have an audience.  Or anything to trigger the complaint.

On the way home, when we had about 85 miles left, all of a sudden there was a huge tree in the road.  So of course, the first thing I did after I stopped was to take a picture of it!  :)

This gave me an opportunity to complain……I did not say anything while several complaining thoughts went through my head.

This is going to make me late getting home…..I have so much do when I get home…..I will be late cooking supper…..I have no idea really where I am nor how to get to a road that will leave me home…..I have to can tomatoes tonight……

But instead I just turned around, headed in the opposite direction, got off the Natchez Trace, and waited for my GPS to reroute itself.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Nothing.

So we drove a couple of miles south on this unknown highway (because I knew that my home was south of where I was!), and then I pulled over into a parking lot and let my GPS do its work.

Finally.  It gave me a path home.  After about a 20 mile detour, we ended back on the Natchez Trace, headed south, with about 71 miles to go.  All in all, it really was not that much out of the way.

We were later than I planned getting home, but thankfully, Julie volunteered to cook supper, and I began the process of canning tomatoes.  I canned 9 pints.

Today I am canning pinto beans.  7 quarts are in the pressure canner right now.  I am going to can beans one more day this week, and tomatoes as needed, and then I am done canning for a while.

I have got to get my school plans finished and all of my things organized and ready to go.  I shopped at our teacher supply store today and bought some really cute things for our Back to School Celebration.

Oh.  On my drive to Nashville, I finished The Giver.  What an abrupt ending!  But I saw on Amazon that there is another book that should wrap things up.  I can't remember the name, but I will be reading it. We finished The Cricket on the Heath on the way home.
I am reading The Cat of Bubastes as a pre-read for Clay.  My older girls and Jimmy have all read it, but I wanted to so I could discuss it with Clay.  I am almost finished reading Carry On Mr. Bowditch (and that book is so sad!) with Leah and Sam, and I began reading to everyone The Phantom Tollbooth this morning.  We are also listening to The Candymakers in our car.

Lots of reading going on over here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

No Complaining and a Recipe

I saw this picture on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and I saved the image.  I did not visit the website, so I really have no idea about that, but the concept of not complaining for 24 hours intrigued me.  Challenged me.  I started paying attention to myself, to see how much I actually complained.  I consider myself a positive person, but when I listened to myself, I was surprised at how much I actually grumbled and complained.

It was the little things that I complained about.  Things such as, "I did not sleep well at all last night."
"Why is there torn crayon paper all over the kitchen table?"  "I will NEVER get all my school planning done before August 1st."  "I will be canning beans and tomatoes FOREVER!"

This verse kept popping into my head:

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…"
Philippians 2:14

It's actually pretty simple.  Do all things without complaining and disputing.  But much easier said than done.  In my mind, the opposite of complaining is gratefulness.  It 's hard to complain about a situation when you are looking for something to be thankful about.  So, I decided to repeat one of my favorite verses when I was faced with something to complain about.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have thought about this challenge of not complaining for a whole day several times over the last couple of weeks.  But until today, I have not purposed to actually do it.  So today, I will try.  I plan to be well aware of what I say.  When I perceive that a complaint is going to leave my mouth, I will purpose to pause, and then rephrase what I wanted to say.  State it with a positive slant.  Don't say it at all, if there is no benefit to the hearer, but just something to gripe about and/or vent about for me. 

I suspect this will be more difficult than I think, but I am willing to try. 

Last week I found this recipe online, but I have no idea where.  I copied it down in my notebook when I stumbled upon it, because I did not want to try to remember the website.  I made a few changes, and this is the final product.  We thought it was delicious, and I plan to serve it again this week.

Curried Cauliflower and Rice

2 cups cooked rice
2 cups shredded carrots (I do this in my food processor.)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
2 cups fresh spinach, torn into small pieces
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

For the dressing:
1 lemon, squeezed
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
more salt to taste

Roast cauliflower and garbanzo beans (salt them a little) at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Just check it and take it out when it is slightly brown and done.  I actually put my oven on convection, and it takes about 15 minutes. 
Combine this with the rice, carrots, and spinach in a large bowl.  Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to blend.  Pour over the rice/cauliflower mixture and stir to combine.
Let stand a few minutes for flavors to blend.

This dish has a slight Indian flavor without being too strong or spicy.  I served this with a green salad and some fresh fruit.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Little Road Trip and Some Good Books

I left at 7:00 this morning to take Olivia and Julie to Nashville to meet Olivia's college roommate and her mama for lunch.  Then Olivia and Julie went home with them (to Kentucky) to spend a long weekend.  They are attending a Jane Austen Ball on Saturday night.  I am not sure what all that involves, except for wearing beautiful costumes, but I am sure that I will learn all about it when they get home!

We listened to three-fourths of The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens during the four hour trip up there.  Then, when I was driving back alone, I listened to The Giver by Lois Lowry.  That book definitely gives you something to think about!  The theme of sameness is somewhat disturbing.  I'll finish The Giver when I drive back to pick the girls up, and then we will finish The Cricket on the Hearth on the way back home!  I download these and other audio books from  I have already downloaded some books for our trip to take Olivia back to college next month.  I try to have at least one book from both Leah's and Sam's Sonlight list for long trips.

I finished reading Follow My Leader last night to Leah and Sam, and tonight we will pick up Carry On Mr. Bowditch.  We are about halfway through with this book, and it is one of my favorite read alouds.  When we finish it, I plan to read aloud The Phantom Tollbooth to all five children before Olivia goes back to college.  I have read it aloud only one time, and that was a few years ago.  We really liked it, but I am anticipating stopping a lot to explain the play on words to Sam.

I am almost through with The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I am really, really enjoying this book.  I may even start a little happiness project of my own.

What books are you reading?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Julie's 17th Birthday

We celebrated Julie's birthday last Saturday.  As my girls get older, it is getting more and more difficult for me to think of new and fun ideas for their table decor.  I don't even look at Pinterest!  I try to keep it low key and use items that are actually part of their birthday gifts, instead of buying a lot of decorations that I will have to store.  

Julie has an interest in quilting (she already knows how to piece a quilt and hand quilt it), and she asked for some quilting pattern books and fabric for her birthday.  Both sets of grandparents gave her money for her birthday gift, and so she is going to buy exactly what she wants.  However, I bought a few small items that were quilt related to use for table decorations.

 The Table
The three baskets in the middle came from my party box.

 Each basket held items like yarn (not quilt-related, but they matched the paper goods), quilting pins and needles, a quilting thimble, and some quilting fabric strips.

 The birthday girl with her morning coffee

 Sweet Sam, waiting on his breakfast.

Our family birthday traditions include:
  • A surprise decoration of our kitchen table when the birthday child awakens.
  • Wrapped gifts (some of them lovingly handmade) stacked in front of our fireplace.  They are opened either before or after breakfast, depending on the wishes of the birthday child.
  • All three meals of the day selected by the birthday child.  We will take them to a restaurant, order take-out, or I'll prepare a home-cooked meal, whatever the child wants or a combination of all three.
  • A special dessert (with candles) selected by the birthday child
  • All other family members doing the birthday child's chores for the day.
  • No school if the birthday falls during the school year.
  • A day of leisure for the birthday child.  He or she is allowed to spend the day playing/crafting/reading/building, etc. with his or her gifts.  
  • The day only comes once a year, and it is an important day, celebrating the life of my precious child, so we try to make a big deal of it.
  • Large parties are not necessary, nor do we even have outside the family birthday parties every year.  There is no rhyme or reason to whether or not my children have birthday parties, we just take it year by year and child by child.

 Julie with her gifts.

 Opening a set of books from Olivia.

 Displaying the pot holder that Leah made her.

 The requested birthday dessert:  homemade banana pudding.  I actually made the vanilla pudding from scratch!
Clay decorated the top.

 Singing "Happy  Birthday"!
Jimmy's parents surprised us with a visit, and so we invited them to stay for supper.  We had lots of cooked fresh vegetables (including tomatoes and squash from our own garden) and corn bread. 

Sam, Granmomma, and Leah.

Happy Birthday Julie!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Day of Canning

I have already completed 4 canning sessions (which is one reason why I have not been blogging), and as I get ready to start another batch, I thought I would blog along as I go.  You can enjoy the process too, and hopefully I won't make any mistake or have any mishaps as I go.  I plan to share my Monday's canning saga later……so you can learn from my mistakes.  :)

Here goes.

10:56 AM:  Drain and rinse garbanzo beans (11 cups, dried) that have been soaking since about 7:00 PM last night.
11:03 AM:  Put beans back in huge pot (my water bath canner), cover with about 3 inches of water, and place on stove with burner on extra high.
Wash, dry and put away bowl, colander, and large measuring cup used to drain and rinse big pot of beans.
11:06 AM:  Wash 16 pint jars, lids, and rings (that I will use to can these beans in).
Put 3 inches of water in pressure canner to bring to a simmer.
Turn oven on warm setting to place clean, dry jars in to keep warm.
Run down to basement to get one more lid and ring.
Periodically check and stir beans.  Waiting for them to come to a boil.
11:21 AM:  Put lids in small pot of water to simmer.
Dry jars and place in oven to keep warm.
Let rings dry on dish towel.
Stir beans…..almost boiling.
11:25 AM:  Skim icky foam off top of beans…..still not quite boiling.
Run outside to check if polaris is through cleaning the pool.
11:29 AM:    Skimmed more icky foam off top.  The beans are now boiling!  Set the timer for 30 minutes.
It is so nice outside this morning…..when Leanna and I ran at 6:00 AM, it was 59 degrees!  In July!  In Mississippi!  When I checked on the polaris (and the pool is clean so I turned it off and also took the water hose out of the pool because the water level is back up---I had backwashed the pool earlier and the water was down…), I was tempted to come inside, turn everything off, grab a book and go sit outside by my pool and enjoy the beautiful day.
WHOOPS!  The beans started boiling over while I was typing……I turned the heat down and skimmed off more icky foam.  All is well now!
11:35 AM:  While the beans are happily boiling, and I have everything ready, I am going to fold a load of clothes and put another load in the dryer, and another load in the washer…..checking back on the beans periodically…..
11:44 AM:  Pleasant surprise in the laundry room--there was NOT a load in the dryer waiting to be folded.  Just a few hang-to-dry items.  I found a sleeping bag that someone had left in the floor, so I folded it and put it away.  Checked on the beans.  Stirred them--they are doing great!  Finished my 3rd cup of coffee, and now I'm switching to water.
Scanned Facebook while waiting for the beans to finish…..(my laptop is on the counter right beside my stove)
11:55 AM:  Scanning The Happiness Project (also a title of the book I am currently reading) website.
Stirred the beans.  They are almost through with their 30 minutes of boiling.
11:59 AM: The timer is beeping!  The beans are ready to can.
I turned the beans down to simmer.  I will take each hot jar from the oven, fill with beans using a slotted spoon, then fill with cooking liquid using a ladle.  Add salt.  Remove air bubbles (using a small cedar tool hand-carved by my grandmother).  Wipe jar tops.  Place lid on top (removing the lid from the simmering water using my new magnet stick).  Put on ring.  Place jar in pressure canner.  Repeat until the canner is full of all 16 pints.  I'll let you know if I have any beans left over…'s hard to guesstimate how many dried beans to prepare.
12:28 PM:  All 16 jars are filled and in the canner, but I still have some beans left.  I am quickly washing and heating 4 more jars, lids, and rings.
12:37 PM:  All 20 pints are in the canner!  The lid is bolted down, and the burner is turned on extra high.  I fill be following my canner's instructions--to vent steam for 7 minutes (it's not venting yet), and then putting the "jiggler" on 10# pressure, let it come to a jiggle, and start my timer for 75 minutes.  Then  I will need to reduce heat until it is jiggling only 1-4 times a minute….for 75 minutes.
I have a few beans left.  I am going to transfer them to a smaller pot, and cook them for about 30 more minutes, or until tender.  We will eat them for supper.
12:42 PM:  I drained the beans left in the huge pot.  And there were truly "a few" beans left.  Like about 10 beans!  So we will be eating some freshly canned beans for supper!  :)
Going to take a lunch break while waiting for the pressure canner to build up pressure.
1:05 PM:  The canner has vented, and I waiting for the regulator to jiggle.
Washing all my canning pots and such, and also cleaning up the kitchen from lunch and the refrigerator clean out.
1:11 PM:  The 75 minutes processing time begins now!
Still washing dishes.
1:32 PM:  Dishes are all washed.  Dishwasher started.  Now to fold clothes and put last load in dryer.
1:51 PM:  Going to walk down to the garden and pick tomatoes.  Since I have not had enough fun canning today, I am going to put up some tomatoes too!  I'll need 10 pounds to make 8-9 pints.  I have 7 pounds in my kitchen right now.  I hope to find at least 3 pounds of ripe tomatoes on the vines.
2:12 PM:  Back from the garden.  Big surprise!  We have green beans!  I picked a small amount, and so we will enjoy green beans for supper tonight too!  I picked 2 squash and a bunch of tomatoes.  I'm about to weigh out three more pounds and wash them all.
2:27 PM:  The beans are done.  I turned off the heat, and now I have to wait until the pressure gauge reads 0, then I can remove the regulator, and then the lid to let the jars begin to cool.
I am going to take a short break before I tackle the tomatoes.
Leah is sick today--she woke up with a sore throat, headache, and a fever.   I have been giving her ibuprofen every 4-5 hours, but she still feels poorly.  She is wrapped up in two blankets in the recliner in the den.
2:43 PM:  Ok.  Break is over. (I ate a bowl of oatmeal and looked at a quilting book….I want to make a quilt….maybe when I finish all of this canning!)
My big canning pot of water is almost boiling, so I better wash and core the tomatoes.
2:52 PM:  Put tomatoes in boiling water.  Prepared ice bath (all the contents from my ice maker in a dishpan and cold water) to plunge the tomatoes in after they boil for 90 seconds.  This makes the skins slip right off.
2:59 PM:  Peeled tomatoes.  Put tomatoes in large tray and quartered them. Put tomatoes and their juices in huge stock pot to bring to a boil.
Rinsed out canner and refilled halfway.  Put on burner to bring to a boil.
Beans have still not cooled enough to remove lid yet.
3:18 PM:  I have the tomatoes simmering.  The water in the canner is heating.  The pressure dropped to zero on the pressure canner, so I removed the lid and am now putting the canned garbanzo beans on the counter to cool.  I am waiting to hear the popping of the lids sealing.
3:29 PM:  The jars are washed and being kept warm in the oven.  The lids and rings are washed, and the lids are simmering in a pot of water.  The canning water is heating.  The tomatoes are simmering.  I'm going to give the jars just a few minutes more to get warm (while I check on the laundry) and then I will begin filling the jars with tomatoes.  I am not sure how many pints my tomatoes will yield yet.  We will see.
3:43 PM:  The clothes are folded.  I checked on Leah and gave her some Coke.  Everything is all ready, so it's time for me to start filling jars with tomatoes.
3:56 PM:  The tomatoes are in the water bath canner, and will process for 40 minutes.  It made 8 pints.
Now I'm going to clean everything up.
4:13 PM:  The dishes are done.  I am going to eat a snack and then take a shower while the tomatoes are processing.  I ran 9 miles this morning, and I have not had time to take a shower yet!
4:44 PM:  I am clean.  The tomatoes are out of the canner, sitting beside the beans, and all are cooling.

Canning complete.

I'm going to sit with Leah and rest a few minutes, and then I'll cook supper.  :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Menu, Miles, and More

We spent last week hosting four young men, who along with Clay, attended Preacher Training Classes all week.  The boys at my housed renamed it "Preacher Camp".  Counting Clay, we had three 15 year olds, a 19 year old, and a 20 year all, from the previous Saturday until this past Friday.

Fun.  Food.  Fellowship.

They left each morning at 7:30, and they returned around 6:30 each night.  I only had to feed them breakfast and a nighttime snack each day, because ladies from our congregation took turns providing the 20 men lunch and supper each day.

When they got home each evening, they spent an hour of two unwinding before studying and doing their homework (for hours!  some nights until 2 A.M) before going to bed.  I let them use the schoolroom in our basement for their work, and when it came time for sleep, I had each boy in a separate room.  It really worked out well.

But I had no time to blog.  :)  And that's ok.

Yesterday was Julie's 17th birthday.  Happy Day.  I will post pictures and share about the big day another day.  (The pictures are still in the camera.)

Menu This Week:
Monday:  refried beans, Spanish rice, green chili white bean dip
Tuesday:  curried cauliflower and couscous
Wednesday:  cilantro lime quinoa with black beans
Thursday:  roasted sweet potato and quinoa salad
Friday:  BBQ bean wraps

Miles This Week:
I ran zero miles last week.  ZERO.
I was somewhat overwhelmed with the house guests and the cooking (I also helped to feed the men for lunch and supper Thursday), and the laundry, and I tried to do some school planning….so I never ran last week!  However, I have a 32 mile week planned for this week.  I have got to do 30+ miles the next 3-4 weeks in order to be ready to begin my marathon training.  (Which I said I was NOT running last week……)

Monday:  7
Tuesday:  6
Wednesday:  9
Thursday:  rest
Friday:  5
Saturday:  5

Be sure to check out beginning Monday for some menu inspiration.

I finished Little Women and I also read Fahrenheit 451 in just two days over the weekend.  I'll blog my thoughts about both books later.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


The children and I spent a couple of days visiting my parents, and now we are home.  It was a nice visit, full of lively conversation, delicious food, and lots of free time.

Now I am home and back to work.  Our congregation is hosting a preacher training program next week, and the trainees will arrive Saturday afternoon.  Our family will host 3 young men (two teenagers and a 20yo) in our home for the week.  So I am buying LOTS of groceries!

I worked for a couple of hours on my menu and shopping lists, which included my monthly Sam's and Walmart stock-up trips.  Today I plan to go to Walmart, Sam's and Kroger, plus a couple of other errands as well.

I don't have to provide all the meals for the week-----we are having a potluck meal on Sunday, and Monday-Friday, various ladies from our congregation will be providing lunches and suppers for the trainees.  They will all eat together at one of our elder's homes.  Leanna and I are taking supper on Thursday night.  I still have to feed my family all week though, and feed the young men (and my family) substantial breakfast and bedtime snacks, and so I have the longest grocery list ever!

I really like my preprinted shopping lists.  In case you don't know what I am talking about, I have two different lists that I typed on my computer.  One is a Walmart/Sam's list, and the other is a Kroger/Sam's list.  I have Sam's listed on both lists because sometimes my Sam's shopping is my once a month stock up (on the Walmart/Sam's list), and sometimes it is a shorter list of produce (on the Kroger/Sam's list).
I keep these lists taped inside our pantry door, and I highlight items as we run out of them.  When I am ready to make my final list, I take the lists down, replace them with a new one for the next week or month, and finish highlighting and adding things to the list.  Each list has all of the items that I commonly buy, week after week, month after month.  I have my Kroger list items in order that I see them as I walk through the store.  They are making some changes in the arrangement of my Kroger right now (integrating the organic products throughout the store instead of leaving them as they are--in their own little section……which I am not happy about, and I kindly told the store manager this!), so I will have to retype my list when they are through moving things around!

My to do list today includes running 5 miles, paying bills, preparing other items to mail, working in my garden, and then the major shopping.  I better get back to work!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, June 30, 2014


I have always used copy work in my homeschool, some years more than others.  I plan on having Sam do a good bit of copy work during the upcoming school year.  However, I need some ideas for how to actually create it.  I have the sources of what I want him to copy:  Bible verses we are learning, some poems, passages from books he is reading, etc., but what I don't have is how to create the pages for him to copy.

I have created copy work in the past two different ways.

  1. I wrote down the passages on lined paper.  This takes quite a bit of time, and I can't do weeks at a time because my hand gets tired and my handwriting gets less neat.
  2. StartWrite.  I had this program on our old windows computers.  But now we have all Macs, and I am not sure that I want to buy the newest version of StartWrite.  I don't remember it being all that user-friendly.  Which is why I ended up handwriting most of my copy work.
Do any of you have any ideas for me?  I have OpenOffice on my laptop and Pages on our desktop computer.  I am looking for a way to generate copy work using either of those programs.  I simply want to type the passage at the top of the page and then have correctly spaced lines for him to copy underneath.

I'll handwrite it if I have to, but I really would prefer to type it!  And I want to prepare several weeks' worth of copy work at one time if possible.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Beginning My School Year Planning

Finally.  I am beginning to plan for the 2014-2015 school year.  It will take me a while to get all of my books and supplies ordered and then to plan everything all out.  I like to do as much as possible during our summer break, so when school actually begins, I can just follow the plan.  Not spend every Sunday night getting things ready for the upcoming week.

How do I begin?

  • Clean out the children's work buckets.  That is what I call whatever they keep their school books and various supplies in.  Last year it was crates.  I emptied them completely out about a month ago.  Filed important papers, threw away a lot of trash, and only put back in the crates the books they would need for the upcoming school year.
  • Create a shopping list.  I wrote each child's name on a piece of paper and underneath listed every subject he would study next year.  Then I created another list where I wrote down every item that I had to buy as I listed each child's subjects.  Clear as mud?
  • For example:  On Sam's list, the first item was Horizons Math, Grade 3, Student Workbooks 1&2.  So on my ongoing "to buy" list, I wrote down Horizons Math, Grade 3, WB 1&2.
  • I did this for all four of my home schooled students.  I ended up with 16 items that I need to buy (for all 4 children), not including my Sonlight purchases.  I'll work on that list next.  
  • I was able to find everything that I needed at I plan to double check my list tonight and then place my order!
  • I do find that I am ordering less each year, because I use as many non-consumable products as possible.  I have one more Instructor's Guide to buy from Sonlight (Core E, because previously I used Core D/E combo, and for Leah and Sam I am using separate Cores for D and E), and then I will be done buying IGs from Sonlight.  I now have all IGs from Pre3/4 all the way through Core W (which I have instead of separate Cores G and H).  Plus Core 100.  
Back to planning and shopping.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'm Done

With the kids' help, I finished my deep cleaning checklist before lunch this morning.  I must admit that I lost steam by the time we got to the kids' bedrooms and bathrooms, but they helped me and we got it done.

I may never clean again.  (Until next week.)

I celebrated my clean house with a lunch date with Jimmy.  A late anniversary date.  We went to KOK (Kermit's Outlaw Kitchen) in downtown Tupelo.  KOK serves fresh cooked food using locally sourced ingredients.  The menu featured entrees named for famous Mississippians.  I had the Brittany Spears Romaine Wrap, and Jimmy had the 80's Oprah Salad.  Both were delicious!  For dessert we went to Starbucks.  Yum.

Then we ran some errands (because when you have been married for 23 years, and you are in town without five children in tow---even though they are all big and can walk on their on and all---running errands on a date is actually fun).   Here is the exciting line-up:
Harbor Freight (I sat in the car for this one and made my grocery list.)
Home Depot

The boys are going to their monthly knife club meeting tonight and I plan to start working on my school stuff.  The girls and I will also probably play dominoes or rummy cube after supper.

Summer fun!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Still Cleaning

Today is my third full day of cleaning.  I have been alternating about one hour of work with 30 minutes of diversion.  Today's diversion has been Pinterest.  I'm looking for fun back to school ideas.  August 4th will be here before I know it.  I still haven't even made a list of what I need for next school year much less ordered anything yet.  I'll get to it in a few days----after I get my house all clean.

Jimmy and Clay made me the best home improvement!  They worked all day yesterday cutting, hauling, and installing installing paneling and shelves inside our "secret room".  It's an unfinished area of our house where we keep plastic storage boxes of the children's toys and things and all of the baby and toddler toys that I want to keep (like the play kitchen, workbench, doll cribs, Little People, etc.)  Two walls were studs and exposed insulation, and that is what they covered, floor to ceiling.  It is fabulous!



I think I can finish my list of deep cleaning tomorrow.
Then it's on to school planning, organizing, and ordering.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Send A Card

Yesterday I spent over five hours deep cleaning my bathroom and bedroom.  What I mean by deep cleaning is wiping down/washing the baseboards, doors, cabinets, shelves, light fixtures, windows, door and window facings, and ceiling fans.  I also scrubbed my shower.  I cleaned out, vacuumed, and reorganized every drawer and shelf.  What a job!  In between one hour work sessions I fixed and served lunch, wrote my blog post about RYC, and began cutting out a dress to sew for Leah.

In one corner of my bedroom, on a bottom shelf, was a medium sized basket full of cards, letters, and notes that were given to me when I underwent my diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent surgeries, over two years ago.  I have not gone through that basket since that time--simply because I have put that part of my life behind me, and I never seem ready to "go through that basket". Yesterday, I emptied out the basket, scanning each card, note, or letter……part of me wanted to just sit down and reread them all slowly, but the practical part of me won out--knowing that if I started that, I would probably lose steam on my cleaning project!  So I scanned them as I packed them in a plastic storage box along with some special items and cards given to me by my husband and children.

I was reminded of how good people can be.  As I briefly looked at each card, I found that some of the cards were from people I have never met (friends of friends), and some of them I have no remembrance of receiving (brain fog from pain medicine).  It did my heart good to be reminded of the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement so many people gave me during a time when I really, really needed it.  It was bittersweet to find cards of get well wishes from two special people who have since passed on from this life--my grandmother and an elderly man from our congregation.

Sending a card or writing a short note of encouragement and promise of prayer means so much to a person who is undergoing trials.  I am sure that most people, like me, keep these special cards and draw encouragement and support every time they get the cards out and reread them--like I did yesterday. Not only will they be lifted up when they receive the card, but they also will be motivated to share the blessing that they received by encouraging someone else.

So today I want to encourage you.  Send a card.  Write a short letter.  Mail it to someone that you know is suffering from a sickness, or enduring a lengthy illness, or recovering from a surgery, or awaiting test results, or is having a difficult time with a spouse or children, or has an important decision to make…..if you can think of anyone who needs your encouragement, send a card.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rustic Youth Camp

Rustic Youth Camp (RYC)
I tell people that RYC is like Vacation Bible School on steroids!  The days are full--beginning at 8:00 AM and ending somewhere between 4:00 and 5:00 PM.  Here is an overview of each camp day.
  • General Assembly--where all campers (150 of them, ages 3-18) and counselors and staff (about 70-80 adults) gather in the multi-purpose building (un-air conditioned--hence the name Rustic Youth Camp, well, actually that is just one of the many reasons that the camp is rustic) to sing hymns, a patriotic song or two, listen to short Bible talk, hear pertinent camp announcements, and sing silly songs and play silly (and sometimes messy) games.
  • Bible Classes--the campers are grouped by age and grade.  I taught the 3rd grade class.  Originally I signed up to teach the 3rd/4th grade class, but since the group was so big, the 3rd and 4th grades were separated.  I had Leah placed in my class even though she is a finishing 4th grader--she wanted me to teach her.  Leanna's son and Lynn's daughter were also in my class.  We had 13 students and 3 teachers.  We were responsible for our class from after assembly until pick-up time in the late afternoon.  The Bible classes always have a theme for the week, and each class studies the same theme and lessons, but of course the younger classes make the appropriate adaptations.  This year's theme was The Cross.  
  • Crafts--Younger campers do crafts in their classroom, and older campers rotate through various craft stations on the campground.  Our class also had a secular theme, Rainbows, and so a lot of our crafts centered around that theme.
  • Food--Two snacks and lunch are served each day in the air conditioned dining hall. 
  • Playground Time--RYC has two playgrounds for the campers to enjoy.
  • Sports--Each afternoon at 3:00, the classes participate in their assigned sport for the day.  The campers are divided in to two teams, Red and Blue (before we arrive), and score is kept all week.  Our class played ring toss, water ballon target throwing, volleyball, and kickball.  Other sports for older campers include softball, disc golf, ultimate frisbee, archery, trap shooting, plus others I am sure that I am forgetting.  Also, there are ping pong, archery, disc golf and trap shooting tournaments going on all week as well.  And, on Friday afternoon, all of the classes participate in a kind of Field Day.  The classes rotate through a variety of events, and the scores for red and blue teams are added to the week's scores.  Events include tug-of-war, hula hoop relays, sack races, and many others.
  • Raft Building Competition--This was a new event for this year.  In the past, the 7th-12th graders go on a field trip on Thursdays.  This year, instead, the three classes (7-8th, 9th, and 10-12th) were each assigned the following project:  build a raft, that will float with at least one person on board, using only materials found around the campground.  No supplies could be purchased.  Thursday at 5:00, the three teams with their rafts put them in the lake and raced a short distance to the boathouse.  I think much fun was had by all the builders, and the crowd really got into it!
  • Bunkhouse--I don't know much about what happens after 5:00, because Lynn and I take our younger children to Mrs. Beulah's house for the night.  Campers must be 13 years old to stay in the bunkhouse.  This year Julie, Clay, and Lynn's oldest two boys stayed in the bunkhouses.  I know that they are served supper and breakfast,  have free time, and have at least one Bible study each night plus an early morning singing session (while waiting for the day campers to arrive.)
  • Friday Night Program--all parents, grandparents, friends, and other family members of campers are invited to the Friday Night Program.  The campers and guests enjoy a BBQ and hotdog dinner followed by the skits and awards.  Each class prepares a short skit or song to present Friday night.  The camp directors award various awards and recognition including a service award, camp favorites, and individual sports awards.  
RYC is run by individual Christians, men and women who donate their time, money, and lots of hard work to create a week of memorable fellowship and fun for young people.  The camp has been in existence for over 30 years, and it has grown to be extremely popular in our area.  Registration used to be by mail, but this year the camp instituted online registration.  Once the registration link went live, first camp (the one we attended) was full and registration was closed in twenty seconds!  Second camp took a little bit longer…..45 minutes!  

Here are some photo highlights of our wonderful week.  Keep in mind that I was Leah's teacher, and that is why I have more pictures of her than of my other children.

 3rd grade class

 Avery and Leah doing a sharpie tie dye project.

 The whole class, hard at work.

 Sam, enjoying his lunch.

 Waiting in the lunch line

 Clay with two friends

 Leah and Avery on the playground

 Leah, painting a rainbow vase

 Practicing the song for Friday night

Sam on the playground

 Leah and Avery in matching outfits and hairstyles

Me and Mrs. Vicki--Camp Leader Extraordinaire
and organizer and announcer of all things FUN!

 Avery, Leah, and Jared at Mrs. Beulah's house

 Our gracious host, Mrs. Beulah
My children enjoy staying each night with Mrs. Beulah as much as they like camp!  She has a huge pool with a diving board and slide.  Lynn and I let the pool be there bath, every night except for two while we were there!

 Morning Announcements

Morning Bible Lesson

Julie, playing a sport (not sure which one)

 Me, Julie, Lynn, and Stacee,
just hanging out on the playground.

Seeing old friends--Mr. Jerry and Mrs. Dottie

 Our class leading a silly song in one morning's assembly.

 Clay's class's raft
They finished in 2nd place.

 Our class having fun with water balloons one afternoon.

 Sam and Julie

Julie's Class's Raft
They won!

 My class with our three teachers, Mrs. Beverly, Mrs. Sharon, and Mrs. Roan.

During a Bible lesson

 The cute, cute backdrop that Sam's teachers made for their skit.

 Sam's class, ready to take a bow.

 Leah's class, singing their song.

 "I Can Sing a Rainbow"

 Cute skit shirt
The back says, "Do you love RYC?"

 A scene from Clay's skit

 A scene from Julie's skit

 Julie's class

 My car…..all packed up and ready to head home.

One last family picture before we left.
We are SO HOT AND SWEATY in this picture!
We are missing Jimmy (who had to work) and Olivia (who served as a junior counselor at another camp this week).

 The raft race

 The winners, approaching the finish line

 My class, again.
That trailer in the background was our classroom.  We were really fortunate to be able to use that trailer….it was air-conditioned.  Most of the classes for 1st grade and up, and all of the crafts, are held outdoors under pavilions or on the porches of log cabins.

 Clay and Parker

 Clay, doing a relay on Friday afternoon.

 Leah in the sack race

 Taking a rest during sports

 Asa, Sam, and Samuel, waiting their turns for a relay.

 I'm helping out my team in the hula hoop relay.

One last picture of the tired, hot, dirty, sweaty Mamas.

RYC is an exhausting week, but it is full of fun, fellowship, friendship, and memory-making.  Both the campers and the adults build lasting friendships, and we all grow in our Bible knowledge and our service to our Lord.  I always learn so much from the ladies that I teach with, and I am eager to put into practice those new ideas.